Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Excellent parenting advice

Friday, July 31st, 2015

We need to beware of pat answers and over generalizations that do more harm than good.

This story by Tina Plantamura first appeared at, an alternative news+culture women’s website

My oldest son just graduated high school and is now embarking on the next leg of his journey that will bring him closer to real life. I have come to realize that there are so many things that I wish I could un-tell him.

I hope he knows that all of these empowering, yet misleading little statements that I (or others with the best intentions in mind) might have spoken into his nearly grown-up ears are not exactly true…

Hacking The Nervous System

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

One nerve connects your vital organs, sensing and shaping your health. If we learn to control it, the future of medicine will be electric.

However the technology develops, our understanding of how the body manages disease has changed for ever. “It’s become increasingly clear that we can’t see organ systems in isolation, like we did in the past,” says Paul-Peter Tak. “We just looked at the immune system and therefore we have medicines that target the immune system.

“But it’s very clear that the human is one entity: mind and body are one. It sounds logical but it’s not how we looked at it before. We didn’t have the science to agree with what may seem intuitive. Now we have new data and new insights.”


When Grief Becomes a Disorder

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

As M. Katherine Shear, MD, professor of psychiatry at the Columbia University School of Social Work, puts it: “Grief is not one thing. It is a shorthand word for a complex, time-varying experience that is unique for each person and each loss.”

There is no timetable for the healing process. “In general, grief usually evolves over time from an acute form that tends to dominate a person’s mind to an integrated form in which the core features of sadness and yearning are much more subdued,” Dr. Shear says. When those feelings persist or intensify, the result may be a condition known as complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder (PGD). As much as 10 percent of all bereaved people experience complicated grief.

Complicated grief is marked by “broad changes to all personal relationships, a sense of meaninglessness, a prolonged yearning or searching for the deceased, and a sense of rupture in personal beliefs,” according to the American Psychological Association.

People with complicated grief often experience chronic sleep disturbances and disruptions in their daily routine. Studies have found that they are at increased risk for hypertension, heart disease, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. They may “try to avoid confronting the intense pain associated with the loss and this, paradoxically, ends up increasing the pain and interfering with the natural adaptive process,” says Shear, who is director of Columbia’s Center for Complicated Grief.


Probiotics To Treat Depression

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

What you eat can have a major impact on how you feel emotionally.

A diet rich in probiotics — which support the growth of “healthy” bacteria in the gut — is known to boost digestive health and can even improve a person’s immune system. But now an increasingly robust body of evidence suggests that gut bacteria may exert a significant effect on brain function and mental health.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that can be found in your body, as well as in supplements and foods fermented with live active cultures such as some yogurts, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. These “good” bacteria are known to promote digestive and immune health, and researchers are discovering that they may support mental health as well.

Once considered a fringe idea, a growing number of scientists have become interested in probiotics and prebiotics as potential treatments for anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. And in a small, new study at Leiden University, researchers found additional support for the idea: they report that among 40 healthy subjects, those who underwent four weeks of probiotic treatment showed a decrease in negative thoughts and feelings.


19 Incredibly Successful People Who Started Out As Failures

Friday, January 16th, 2015

When it comes to accomplishing your dreams — and getting credit for doing so — all we can say is, never underestimate the power of time.

Time not only grants you the ability to use your talents, pursue your dreams and leave a lasting imprint on the world, but also gives others room to adjust their perceptions of your achievements. Success and failure are not absolute measures of one’s life, but rather the opposite ends of a spectrum that is constantly in flux. Current perceptions are only as valid as you allow them to be.


Good holiday gifts

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

I’ll make my usual offer of donating 30% of the price of my popular Afghan Hound memoir, Baltho, The Dog Who Owned a Man, and 20% of any of my other books, to any good cause, BUT ONLY WHEN you order directly from me on my site. I have no way of tracking otherwise. I’ve made this offer earlier. Please remember that it’s a standing offer. Just be sure to tell me when you order what you want me to donate to.

These popular books make good gifts, by the way. Some buy extras to give to charitable events, fund-raising drives, and so on.

The books are also available on and from other online outlets and local bookstores.

These popular books make good gifts, by the way. Some buy extras to give to charitable events, fund-raising drives, and so on.

The books are also available on and from other online outlets and local bookstores. BalthocovericonsizeLoveThreads_COVER_LSTRWatson_NecessityOfSymbols_cover

The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
from Beyond the argument that faith in God is irrational—and therefore illegitimate

In America, which sociologists often describe as a uniquely religious country compared with the rest of the Western world, a vast majority of people have faith. According to Pew, 86 percent of Millennials, or people aged 18-33, say they believe in God, and 94 percent of people 34 and older say the same. It’s true that a growing group say they’re “not certain” about this belief, and it’s also true thataffiliation with formal religious institutions is declining. But in terms of pure belief, self-described atheists and agnostics are a small minority, making up only six percent of the population.

The Western world in particular is probably less religious than it was 150 years ago, and the dynamics of belief and observance have certainly become more complex—the growing number of people who are unaffiliated with a specific religion is especially fascinating. But if the age of atheism started in 1882 as Watson claims, most people still haven’t caught on.

The Age of Atheists will likely stay confined to certain intellectual circles: The casual philosopher, the dogmatic non-believer, the coffee-table book collector. But insofar as its argument represents a broader pathology in contemporary conversations about belief, this book matters. Most people form their beliefs and live their lives somewhere in the middle of the so-called “culture divide” that outspoken atheists and believers shout across. The more these shouters shout, the more public discourse veers away from the subtle struggle of the average person’s attempt to be human.


Is Religion Inherently Violent?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

In her new book, Fields of Blood, Karen Armstrong argues against the idea that faith fuels wars.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The point, once again, is fairly straightforward: Humans start wars and slaughter their enemies and blow themselves up for complicated reasons. For a book with such an abundance of historical facts and analysis, Fields of Blood seems to be making a simple argument at an ambitiously macroscopic level—it’s an inevitably overwhelming sprint through nearly 7,000 years of history.

But maybe that’s the point: Humans talk in frameworks. People see the world through cultural associations and narratives of history, even if they’re not apparent; that’s why the attendees of Armstrong’s book talks can intellectually understand that religion hasn’t caused all the major wars in history while still almost subconsciously believing religion to be inherently violent. Fields of Blood can’t debunk the rhetoric about religion that has built up over decades, but “the point is to sow a little seed of doubt, to muddy the waters,” Armstrong told me. Perhaps that’s all one book can hope to do.


We Borrowed a Shelter Dog to Go Hiking. You Can — And Totally Should — Too

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Wonderful idea. More.

Webster’s Finest Forgotten Words

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

October 16 is World Dictionary Day, marking the birthday of the great American lexicographer Noah Webster. Born in Connecticut in 1758, Webster published his first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, in 1806, but it was his two-volume American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1828 (when he was 70 years old) that earned him his place in history as the foremost lexicographer of American English.

The statistics alone speak for themselves: Webster’s American Dictionary took him 28 years to complete. In preparation he learned 26 languages, including Old English, Ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. The final draft listed and defined 70,000 words, more than any other dictionary in history (and 30,000 more than Samuel Johnson’s dictionary had almost a century earlier). 1 in every 6 of Webster’s words had never been listed in a dictionary before; as a dictionary of American English, he radically chose to include a whole new vocabulary of emerging Americanisms like squash, skunk, hickory, chowder and applesauce for the very first time. And he famously took the opportunity to push through his ideas on English spelling reform – some of which took (center, color, honor, ax), and some of which didn’t (dawter, wimmen, cloke, tung).

Despite all of his efforts, Webster’s dictionary sold just 2,500 copies on its publication and he was compelled to mortgage his home in New Haven to fund a second edition in 1840. Three years later, having never quite gained the recognition his work deserved in his lifetime, he died at the age of 84. Today however, as both a literary and scholarly achievement Webster’s 1828 dictionary is widely regarded as both the first truly comprehensive dictionary of American English, and as one of the most important dictionaries in the history of our language. So to mark World Dictionary Day – and to celebrate what would be Webster’s 256th birthday – here are 26 of some of the most curious, most surprising and most obscure words from Webster’s Dictionary in one handy A to Z.


Thomas Ramey Watson is an affiliate faculty member of Regis University's College of Professional Studies. He has served as an Episcopal chaplain (lay), trained as a psychotherapist, done postdoctoral work at Cambridge University, and was named a Research Fellow at Yale University.

In addition to his scholarly writings, he is a published author of poetry and fiction.